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Sermon on the mount.

Skyangel
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12/17/2015 11:12:04 PM
Posted: 11 months ago
The sermon is found in Matthew 5.

I started this thread because I read a post where RuvDraba wrote "nevertheless disagree with almost the whole of the sermon on the mount in its modern, literal interpretation."

I am particularly interested in finding out why Ruv disagrees with almost the whole of the sermon on the mount.

I am also interested to find out what others readers think about it, how they interpret it, and whether they think it has a valid message for any people alive today or in the future.

If so, what message, morals, ethics, etc do you see in it?

I will take one statement at a time from the sermon and starting on my next post, will share what I see in that particular statement beginning at verse 3.
GrittyWorm
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12/17/2015 11:26:23 PM
Posted: 11 months ago
At 12/17/2015 11:12:04 PM, Skyangel wrote:
The sermon is found in Matthew 5.

I started this thread because I read a post where RuvDraba wrote "nevertheless disagree with almost the whole of the sermon on the mount in its modern, literal interpretation."

I am particularly interested in finding out why Ruv disagrees with almost the whole of the sermon on the mount.

I am also interested to find out what others readers think about it, how they interpret it, and whether they think it has a valid message for any people alive today or in the future.

If so, what message, morals, ethics, etc do you see in it?

I will take one statement at a time from the sermon and starting on my next post, will share what I see in that particular statement beginning at verse 3.

That love your neighbor stuff is pretty awful. Ask RUV. Apparently RUV thinks hating would be much much better...
Skyangel
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12/17/2015 11:34:20 PM
Posted: 11 months ago
Matt 5:3 Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

The word blessed according to the Strongs Greek Lexicon, (G3107) means happy.
The word spirit according to the same lexicon (G4145) can refer to the spirit of God or to the human spirit which is basically the animating force within the human body.

"Poor in spirit" means to me they lack spirit or don't have much of it at all, in the same way poor in money would mean someone lacked money or had very little of it.

The word heaven (G3772) can refer to the physical expanse of the universe, the literal space all around us or to an abstract place where an invisible supernatural entity presumably abides.

Therefore, we could interpret the above scripture to say...
Happy are the people who lack an animating force in their body. They have the physical expanse of the universe.

That could also be interpreted as.... The dead don't have a worry in the world. They are resting in perfect peace ( happy or blessed). Their body lacks the animating force ( poor in spirit) the whole universe belongs to them in the sense that their animating force has dissipated into the air and become one with the universe ( heaven ).

If you believe the spirit or energy of dying people ends up in the air, it makes perfect sense.
Skyangel
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12/17/2015 11:36:02 PM
Posted: 11 months ago
At 12/17/2015 11:26:23 PM, GrittyWorm wrote:
At 12/17/2015 11:12:04 PM, Skyangel wrote:
The sermon is found in Matthew 5.

I started this thread because I read a post where RuvDraba wrote "nevertheless disagree with almost the whole of the sermon on the mount in its modern, literal interpretation."

I am particularly interested in finding out why Ruv disagrees with almost the whole of the sermon on the mount.

I am also interested to find out what others readers think about it, how they interpret it, and whether they think it has a valid message for any people alive today or in the future.

If so, what message, morals, ethics, etc do you see in it?

I will take one statement at a time from the sermon and starting on my next post, will share what I see in that particular statement beginning at verse 3.

That love your neighbor stuff is pretty awful. Ask RUV. Apparently RUV thinks hating would be much much better...

Your foolish speculation is unfounded.
I doubt anyone thinks hating is better than loving.
It might help if you grew up a bit instead of typing childish nonsense.
GrittyWorm
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12/17/2015 11:43:37 PM
Posted: 11 months ago
At 12/17/2015 11:36:02 PM, Skyangel wrote:
At 12/17/2015 11:26:23 PM, GrittyWorm wrote:
At 12/17/2015 11:12:04 PM, Skyangel wrote:
The sermon is found in Matthew 5.

I started this thread because I read a post where RuvDraba wrote "nevertheless disagree with almost the whole of the sermon on the mount in its modern, literal interpretation."

I am particularly interested in finding out why Ruv disagrees with almost the whole of the sermon on the mount.

I am also interested to find out what others readers think about it, how they interpret it, and whether they think it has a valid message for any people alive today or in the future.

If so, what message, morals, ethics, etc do you see in it?

I will take one statement at a time from the sermon and starting on my next post, will share what I see in that particular statement beginning at verse 3.

That love your neighbor stuff is pretty awful. Ask RUV. Apparently RUV thinks hating would be much much better...

Your foolish speculation is unfounded.
I doubt anyone thinks hating is better than loving.
It might help if you grew up a bit instead of typing childish nonsense.

I like the part about loving skyangel. If skyangel strikes my cheek, turn the other, and bid skyangel take your coat as well. :-)
RuvDraba
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12/17/2015 11:49:56 PM
Posted: 11 months ago
At 12/17/2015 11:12:04 PM, Skyangel wrote:
I started this thread because I read a post where RuvDraba wrote "nevertheless disagree with almost the whole of the sermon on the mount in its modern, literal interpretation."

Sky, thank you for starting this thread, and I'm happy to reply to it in detail.

I should warn in advance that my response may take up more than one post,, but for this post, let me sketch why I disagree with almost all the sermon on the mount. To start with, let's look at what Christians generally make of it. Then I'll give my views, and also address what some other secularists say of it. One translation of the Sermon on the Mount can be found here. [https://www.biblegateway.com...] There are other translations, but this is the one I'll use as a starting reference.

So what is the Sermon on the Mount?

Found in Matthew, the Sermon on the Mount is a collections of sayings and teachings of Jesus, held to take place relatively early in his ministry. It's the longest tract of Jesus teachings in the New Testament, is among the most widely quoted of the Gospels, and contains tenets normally considered central to Christian adherence.

Christians generally hold that the Sermon on the Mount to be a landmark and signature statement for Christianity, one separating it from Judaic traditions, asserting Jesus' claim to being the moshiach of Judaic prophecy, and guiding Christian interpretation of the Ten Commandments found in Exodus and Dueteronomy, and giving them key tenets by which to live their lives. I agree that it does all these things.

Christians also generally assert that the Sermon preaches kindness, patience, humility, forgiveness and love, and that these are of course good things. I agree that those ideas feature in it, and that they are generally good practices, though I don't hold them to be absolutely and universally good.

Yet I disagree with the Sermon on the Mount as a modern guide to live by for five key reasons:
1) I don't view it as a handbook for life -- I think it's neither necessary nor sufficient to establish the basics of a good moral or ethical system, and offers a warped set of priorities unsuited to modern responsibilities;
2) It seeks to impose reform on benighted ancient Judaic traditions by reinterpreting them, when I think those traditions are best discarded;
3) It's paternalistic and condescending, adopts a tone I think inappropriate for modern moral and ethical discourse;
4) It encourages submission to revelatory authority and power under threats and promises of bribes, which I think is unsuited to discourse meant to develop compassion, morality and ethics;
5) It's also deeply superstitious, and I don't myself believe that superstition is good for critical thought.

So I have no problems in principle if people want to view it as inspiration -- anyone can do that with any text; I just don't think it should be slavishly followed.

Finally, some secularists will say that the sermon on the mount is a landmark in human thought, and while that's flattering to Christians and the Atlantic civilisations they spawned, I don't myself believe that. It's certainly a landmark in Judaeo-Christian thought, but of the humanistic virtues it espouses, I've seen none that cannot be found earlier in other thought, and I'm happy to show where else we can find such ideas if members are interested.

So this is not to dismiss the Sermon on the Mount in its impact on Judaism of the day, or in its influence on the world faith Christianity subsequently became. It is not to say that such words cannot sometimes be used beneficially as inspiration, if you interpret them sensibly.

What I'm saying is that I think it's unsuitable as a sacred, authoritative prescription for life, especially for a modern mind. And the presumption that it is is both present in Christian traditions, and seems consistent throughout its text. I can't see how to interpret it literally without viewing it as a divine injunction on how to behave under promise of threat and reward, and because I disagree with the wisdom of injunctions, the idea of bribing and threatening people to submission, and the claim to authority itself, that's why I fundamentally disagree with it.

I hope that may be interesting.
Skyangel
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12/17/2015 11:51:17 PM
Posted: 11 months ago
Matt 5:4 Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.

"They shall be comforted" seems pretty straight forward and perfectly true to me.
People who mourn are generally comforted by other people as well as believers being comforted by their beliefs in a "greater spirit". I would be surprised if anyone doubted that.

We could argue that the mourners are not happy or blessed while in their state of mourning but on the other hand, the people who believe their loved ones who were "poor in spirit" or lacking an animating force in their body ended up in heaven, are generally happy about the idea that they are indeed "in heaven."

Therefore they can be still be happy in the sense of being comforted by the belief that the "poor in spirit" over which they are mourning will be "in a better place" ie "heaven"
RuvDraba
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12/17/2015 11:53:21 PM
Posted: 11 months ago
At 12/17/2015 11:26:23 PM, GrittyWorm wrote:
At 12/17/2015 11:12:04 PM, Skyangel wrote:
The sermon is found in Matthew 5.

I started this thread because I read a post where RuvDraba wrote "nevertheless disagree with almost the whole of the sermon on the mount in its modern, literal interpretation."

I am particularly interested in finding out why Ruv disagrees with almost the whole of the sermon on the mount.

I am also interested to find out what others readers think about it, how they interpret it, and whether they think it has a valid message for any people alive today or in the future.

If so, what message, morals, ethics, etc do you see in it?

I will take one statement at a time from the sermon and starting on my next post, will share what I see in that particular statement beginning at verse 3.

That love your neighbor stuff is pretty awful. Ask RUV. Apparently RUV thinks hating would be much much better...

Gritty, since you have a long-standing habit of deflecting, strawmanning and trolling, and since I've been asked to explain a position, please be advised that as a matter of practicality I may not respond substantively to your posts in this thread unless your posts respect this thread, its members, and the sincerity of Sky's intent.
Skyangel
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12/17/2015 11:54:56 PM
Posted: 11 months ago
At 12/17/2015 11:43:37 PM, GrittyWorm wrote:
At 12/17/2015 11:36:02 PM, Skyangel wrote:
At 12/17/2015 11:26:23 PM, GrittyWorm wrote:
At 12/17/2015 11:12:04 PM, Skyangel wrote:
The sermon is found in Matthew 5.

I started this thread because I read a post where RuvDraba wrote "nevertheless disagree with almost the whole of the sermon on the mount in its modern, literal interpretation."

I am particularly interested in finding out why Ruv disagrees with almost the whole of the sermon on the mount.

I am also interested to find out what others readers think about it, how they interpret it, and whether they think it has a valid message for any people alive today or in the future.

If so, what message, morals, ethics, etc do you see in it?

I will take one statement at a time from the sermon and starting on my next post, will share what I see in that particular statement beginning at verse 3.

That love your neighbor stuff is pretty awful. Ask RUV. Apparently RUV thinks hating would be much much better...

Your foolish speculation is unfounded.
I doubt anyone thinks hating is better than loving.
It might help if you grew up a bit instead of typing childish nonsense.

I like the part about loving skyangel. If skyangel strikes my cheek, turn the other, and bid skyangel take your coat as well. :-)

Chastising immature adults is as loving as chastising immature children in the process of helping them to wake up to themselves and adopt a more mature attitude.
You can keep your coat since you need it to cover your shame.

Now take the slap on your backside cheek like a man and grow up.
GrittyWorm
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12/17/2015 11:56:56 PM
Posted: 11 months ago
At 12/17/2015 11:54:56 PM, Skyangel wrote:
At 12/17/2015 11:43:37 PM, GrittyWorm wrote:
At 12/17/2015 11:36:02 PM, Skyangel wrote:
At 12/17/2015 11:26:23 PM, GrittyWorm wrote:
At 12/17/2015 11:12:04 PM, Skyangel wrote:
The sermon is found in Matthew 5.

I started this thread because I read a post where RuvDraba wrote "nevertheless disagree with almost the whole of the sermon on the mount in its modern, literal interpretation."

I am particularly interested in finding out why Ruv disagrees with almost the whole of the sermon on the mount.

I am also interested to find out what others readers think about it, how they interpret it, and whether they think it has a valid message for any people alive today or in the future.

If so, what message, morals, ethics, etc do you see in it?

I will take one statement at a time from the sermon and starting on my next post, will share what I see in that particular statement beginning at verse 3.

That love your neighbor stuff is pretty awful. Ask RUV. Apparently RUV thinks hating would be much much better...

Your foolish speculation is unfounded.
I doubt anyone thinks hating is better than loving.
It might help if you grew up a bit instead of typing childish nonsense.

I like the part about loving skyangel. If skyangel strikes my cheek, turn the other, and bid skyangel take your coat as well. :-)

Chastising immature adults is as loving as chastising immature children in the process of helping them to wake up to themselves and adopt a more mature attitude.
You can keep your coat since you need it to cover your shame.

Now take the slap on your backside cheek like a man and grow up.

That was hot. I love you. Marry me.
Skyangel
Posts: 8,234
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12/18/2015 12:32:04 AM
Posted: 11 months ago
At 12/17/2015 11:49:56 PM, RuvDraba wrote:

I should warn in advance that my response may take up more than one post,, but for this post, let me sketch why I disagree with almost all the sermon on the mount. To start with, let's look at what Christians generally make of it. Then I'll give my views, and also address what some other secularists say of it. One translation of the Sermon on the Mount can be found here. [https://www.biblegateway.com...] There are other translations, but this is the one I'll use as a starting reference.

So what is the Sermon on the Mount?

Found in Matthew, the Sermon on the Mount is a collections of sayings and teachings of Jesus, held to take place relatively early in his ministry. It's the longest tract of Jesus teachings in the New Testament, is among the most widely quoted of the Gospels, and contains tenets normally considered central to Christian adherence.

Christians generally hold that the Sermon on the Mount to be a landmark and signature statement for Christianity, one separating it from Judaic traditions, asserting Jesus' claim to being the moshiach of Judaic prophecy, and guiding Christian interpretation of the Ten Commandments found in Exodus and Dueteronomy, and giving them key tenets by which to live their lives. I agree that it does all these things.

Christians also generally assert that the Sermon preaches kindness, patience, humility, forgiveness and love, and that these are of course good things. I agree that those ideas feature in it, and that they are generally good practices, though I don't hold them to be absolutely and universally good.

You don't hold generally good practices to be absolutely and universally good? Am I misunderstanding you?
Please explain what you mean. How can kindness, love, patience, etc, not be absolutely and universally good?

Yet I disagree with the Sermon on the Mount as a modern guide to live by for five key reasons:
1) I don't view it as a handbook for life -- I think it's neither necessary nor sufficient to establish the basics of a good moral or ethical system, and offers a warped set of priorities unsuited to modern responsibilities;

Warped in what way ?

2) It seeks to impose reform on benighted ancient Judaic traditions by reinterpreting them, when I think those traditions are best discarded;

Your opinions are noted.

3) It's paternalistic and condescending, adopts a tone I think inappropriate for modern moral and ethical discourse;

In what way do you perceive it to be condescending?

4) It encourages submission to revelatory authority and power under threats and promises of bribes, which I think is unsuited to discourse meant to develop compassion, morality and ethics;

Threats and bribes?

5) It's also deeply superstitious, and I don't myself believe that superstition is good for critical thought.

Whether readers perceive it as superstitious or not, I think depends entirely on personal perception and interpretation of the text and the principles conveyed.

I will agree that superstition is not good for critical thought. Yet being critical and objective about superstition can be very good food for thought.

So I have no problems in principle if people want to view it as inspiration -- anyone can do that with any text; I just don't think it should be slavishly followed.

If something causes or inspires people to follow goodness, kindness, love, etc. what would be wrong with binding oneself to those principles and becoming a voluntary servant or slave to following the principles?

Finally, some secularists will say that the sermon on the mount is a landmark in human thought, and while that's flattering to Christians and the Atlantic civilisations they spawned, I don't myself believe that. It's certainly a landmark in Judaeo-Christian thought, but of the humanistic virtues it espouses, I've seen none that cannot be found earlier in other thought, and I'm happy to show where else we can find such ideas if members are interested.

I agree the general concepts of living in love, kindness, forgiveness, etc can be found in many different cultures all over the world. They are not confined to Christianity or to the teachings of the Jesus character. Many myths portray and convey similar messages regarding human morals and virtues.

So this is not to dismiss the Sermon on the Mount in its impact on Judaism of the day, or in its influence on the world faith Christianity subsequently became. It is not to say that such words cannot sometimes be used beneficially as inspiration, if you interpret them sensibly.

Sensible interpretation is the secret to understanding anything, especially myths and ancient texts which are full of parables, idioms, allegories, etc.

What I'm saying is that I think it's unsuitable as a sacred, authoritative prescription for life, especially for a modern mind. And the presumption that it is is both present in Christian traditions, and seems consistent throughout its text. I can't see how to interpret it literally without viewing it as a divine injunction on how to behave under promise of threat and reward, and because I disagree with the wisdom of injunctions, the idea of bribing and threatening people to submission, and the claim to authority itself, that's why I fundamentally disagree with it.

I hope that may be interesting.

Thank you for sharing your views.
It is always interesting to read other peoples opinions on any topic.
A literal interpretation of the scriptures can indeed seem very illogical.
That is one reason I prefer to interpret them allegorically and take more notice of the principles conveyed in the messages than I do of the concept of idolizing or worshipping an invisible supernatural character as being the ultimate authority over all humanity.
Skyangel
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12/18/2015 12:36:48 AM
Posted: 11 months ago
At 12/17/2015 11:56:56 PM, GrittyWorm wrote:
At 12/17/2015 11:54:56 PM, Skyangel wrote:
At 12/17/2015 11:43:37 PM, GrittyWorm wrote:
At 12/17/2015 11:36:02 PM, Skyangel wrote:
At 12/17/2015 11:26:23 PM, GrittyWorm wrote:
At 12/17/2015 11:12:04 PM, Skyangel wrote:
The sermon is found in Matthew 5.

I started this thread because I read a post where RuvDraba wrote "nevertheless disagree with almost the whole of the sermon on the mount in its modern, literal interpretation."

I am particularly interested in finding out why Ruv disagrees with almost the whole of the sermon on the mount.

I am also interested to find out what others readers think about it, how they interpret it, and whether they think it has a valid message for any people alive today or in the future.

If so, what message, morals, ethics, etc do you see in it?

I will take one statement at a time from the sermon and starting on my next post, will share what I see in that particular statement beginning at verse 3.

That love your neighbor stuff is pretty awful. Ask RUV. Apparently RUV thinks hating would be much much better...

Your foolish speculation is unfounded.
I doubt anyone thinks hating is better than loving.
It might help if you grew up a bit instead of typing childish nonsense.

I like the part about loving skyangel. If skyangel strikes my cheek, turn the other, and bid skyangel take your coat as well. :-)

Chastising immature adults is as loving as chastising immature children in the process of helping them to wake up to themselves and adopt a more mature attitude.
You can keep your coat since you need it to cover your shame.

Now take the slap on your backside cheek like a man and grow up.

That was hot. I love you. Marry me.

As a Christian you ought to stick to the concept taught in 2 Cor 6:14.

Now are you going to share what you see in the sermon on the mount or not?
If not, I will ignore your future posts on this thread.
Skyangel
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12/18/2015 12:49:45 AM
Posted: 11 months ago
Matt 5:5 Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

It seems to me that people on this planet, meek or not, have already "inherited" the Earth from our ancestors.

In a sense all people are meek or humble when they compare themselves to those they deem greater and wiser than themselves. Children are meek compared to adults.

Even people who do not perceive many others to be greater than themselves, still are humble and meek enough to acknowledge the powers of the universe and Nature itself to be a greater force than all the people on the Earth combined.

Therefore I am of the opinion that the meek have already inherited the Earth and will always inherit it from their ancestors who leave all their assets and liabilities to their offspring.
RuvDraba
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12/18/2015 12:56:17 AM
Posted: 11 months ago
At 12/18/2015 12:32:04 AM, Skyangel wrote:
At 12/17/2015 11:49:56 PM, RuvDraba wrote:
Christians also generally assert that the Sermon preaches kindness, patience, humility, forgiveness and love, and that these are of course good things. I agree that those ideas feature in it, and that they are generally good practices, though I don't hold them to be absolutely and universally good.
You don't hold generally good practices to be absolutely and universally good? Am I misunderstanding you?
Please explain what you mean. How can kindness, love, patience, etc, not be absolutely and universally good?

That's correct. It's a matter of opinion, but I think I'll need to make a separate post about that.
Yet I disagree with the Sermon on the Mount as a modern guide to live by for five key reasons:
1) I don't view it as a handbook for life -- I think it's neither necessary nor sufficient to establish the basics of a good moral or ethical system, and offers a warped set of priorities unsuited to modern responsibilities;
Warped in what way ?
It singles out some virtues while ignoring others. You could argue that it pitches well how to live a good, kind and responsible life as an illiterate Judaic villager in a job you inherited, under the autocratic rule of a military empire where some of your neighbours aren't of your faith and tribe.

But does it pitch well how to live a good, kind and responsible life in a secular, pluralistic democracy with rapidly changing technology, in a fast-paced globalised, urban world where you have no tribe, your neighbours are mostly strangers, and you may be variously called upon to critique and set social policy ranging from economics through national security and pluralistic social justice?

2) It seeks to impose reform on benighted ancient Judaic traditions by reinterpreting them, when I think those traditions are best discarded;
Your opinions are noted.
It's relevant, because those traditions were already holding back Judaic socio-economic development at the time Jesus' teachings were attested. it makes sense for someone to have tried to reform those traditions without losing them entirely -- however Judaism has undergone the repeated soul-searching over the last two millennia -- and has now moved so far from its Biblical traditions that one is entitled to ask whether a' Christian upgrade' was necessary or sufficient, or whether the proscriptions just needed graceful retirement. :)

3) It's paternalistic and condescending, adopts a tone I think inappropriate for modern moral and ethical discourse;
In what way do you perceive it to be condescending?
The sheep/shepherd paridigm we find in Judaeo-Christian morality is all through it implicitly if not always literally.

Setting aside how insulting that paradigm is to a modern educated mind, it's also an active discouragement to question authority, demand transparency, advance one's own knowledge, take responsibility for one's own ignorance and error, and hold authority to account for the same.

I believe such a paternalistic approach to morality is unethical, and unsustainable in a modern world.

4) It encourages submission to revelatory authority and power under threats and promises of bribes, which I think is unsuited to discourse meant to develop compassion, morality and ethics;
Threats and bribes?
E.g. promises of divine favour and afterlife; threats of missing out.

5) It's also deeply superstitious, and I don't myself believe that superstition is good for critical thought.
Whether readers perceive it as superstitious or not, I think depends entirely on personal perception and interpretation of the text and the principles conveyed.
Er, no. If a teacher tells you he's fulfilling prophecy, then he's telling you to believe in prophecy. If you start straining the interpretation to make it figurative, then you still have to explain how that accords with the historical and cultural traditions of the day -- and it doesn't. When ancient peoples say magic, they generally mean literal magic.

I will agree that superstition is not good for critical thought. Yet being critical and objective about superstition can be very good food for thought.
That's irrelevant to the focus of the text.
So I have no problems in principle if people want to view it as inspiration -- anyone can do that with any text; I just don't think it should be slavishly followed.
If something causes or inspires people to follow goodness, kindness, love, etc. what would be wrong with binding oneself to those principles and becoming a voluntary servant or slave to following the principles?
It's both ignorant and unethical to do so. More on that later.

Finally, some secularists will say that the sermon on the mount is a landmark in human thought, and while that's flattering to Christians and the Atlantic civilisations they spawned, I don't myself believe that. It's certainly a landmark in Judaeo-Christian thought, but of the humanistic virtues it espouses, I've seen none that cannot be found earlier in other thought, and I'm happy to show where else we can find such ideas if members are interested.
I agree the general concepts of living in love, kindness, forgiveness, etc can be found in many different cultures all over the world. They are not confined to Christianity or to the teachings of the Jesus character. Many myths portray and convey similar messages regarding human morals and virtues.
Indeed, and since they occur elsewhere, we can begin to compare how they are conceived, articulated, and applied; evaluate their effects and talk about whether a particular formulation is focused, appropriate, balanced, robust, integratable and effective.

So this is not to dismiss the Sermon on the Mount in its impact on Judaism of the day, or in its influence on the world faith Christianity subsequently became. It is not to say that such words cannot sometimes be used beneficially as inspiration, if you interpret them sensibly.
Sensible interpretation is the secret to understanding anything, especially myths and ancient texts which are full of parables, idioms, allegories, etc.
There are at least four kinds of sensible relevant here:
1) a sensible understanding of how the ancient world worked, and what sense ancients might have made of these ideas;
2) a sensible understanding of how it has since been reinterpreted and why;
3) a sensible understanding of how our world works, and what it's strong and weak at; and finally
4) a sensible understanding of how ancient ideas might be practically used for inspiration if not prescription
Skyangel
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12/18/2015 1:00:46 AM
Posted: 11 months ago
Matt 5:6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

When people hunger or thirst for anything at all, they are generally happy when that hunger and thirst is satisfied, and remain happy till they get hungry and thirsty again which motivates them to do what is necessary to fulfil their needs again.

The principle seems to work in all areas of life, not just in a thirst for moral goodness or righteousness but also in a thirst for physical satisfaction. People are happy when they can follow their own desires and find fulfilment of them regardless of whether other people judge those desires as good or bad, beneficial or not.
Skyangel
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12/18/2015 1:26:48 AM
Posted: 11 months ago
Matt 5:7 Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

In the above sentence, I see the principle of reaping what you sow.

People who sow "carrots", reap "carrots" and should be happy to eat the "carrots" for which they hunger and thirst.

The principle works with literal seeds and also with sowing things like love or hate, mercy or condemnation, etc. etc.

We can blame no one but ourselves for what we reap since we will always reap what we sow unless the seeds are destroyed before they have time to produce what they automatically produce.
Various forces in nature can cause seeds to be infertile or destroy a crop. In those instances people will not reap anything.

When bad things happen to good people through life, it does not mean they "sowed bad seeds" or "asked for it"

Not all things in life are a result of what we personally sow.
Some things are a result of what "Mother Nature" sows and those things affect all of nature.
Some things in life are a result of what other people or society in general "sow" and not a result of what you have personally "sown".

The fact is that in life there are sowers of "positive seeds" and also sowers of "negative seeds", which ultimately all affect each other in one way or another.

The best we can do is try to have the best attitudes towards the worst things that can happen to us which in my opinion would be to take control of what we can control and leave the rest to "fate" which we need to accept as it is since it is out of our control.
Skyangel
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12/18/2015 3:40:09 AM
Posted: 11 months ago
At 12/18/2015 12:56:17 AM, RuvDraba wrote:
At 12/18/2015 12:32:04 AM, Skyangel wrote:
At 12/17/2015 11:49:56 PM, RuvDraba wrote:
Christians also generally assert that the Sermon preaches kindness, patience, humility, forgiveness and love, and that these are of course good things. I agree that those ideas feature in it, and that they are generally good practices, though I don't hold them to be absolutely and universally good.
You don't hold generally good practices to be absolutely and universally good? Am I misunderstanding you?
Please explain what you mean. How can kindness, love, patience, etc, not be absolutely and universally good?

That's correct. It's a matter of opinion, but I think I'll need to make a separate post about that.

Please do. I am sure it will be most interesting.
RuvDraba
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12/18/2015 4:32:14 AM
Posted: 11 months ago
At 12/18/2015 12:56:17 AM, RuvDraba wrote:
At 12/18/2015 12:32:04 AM, Skyangel wrote:
At 12/17/2015 11:49:56 PM, RuvDraba wrote:
Christians also generally assert that the Sermon preaches kindness, patience, humility, forgiveness and love, and that these are of course good things. I agree that those ideas feature in it, and that they are generally good practices, though I don't hold them to be absolutely and universally good.
You don't hold generally good practices to be absolutely and universally good? Am I misunderstanding you?
Please explain what you mean. How can kindness, love, patience, etc, not be absolutely and universally good?
That's correct. It's a matter of opinion, but I think I'll need to make a separate post about that.
This post is about why, while kindness, love and patience are good, they're not good as universal absolutes.

For this post, as a single example, I'll take the bull by the horns and talk about love. Christianity styles itself the religion of love, yet all the great world faiths have a lot to say about love, as do many secular philosophies, and every sustainable society depends on it, so love is a broad human concern.

To start with, and for the purposes of this discussion only, let me try and get a working definition for the idea of 'good'. Informally, let's agree that there are things people all need, and they include the kinds of things outlined by Abraham Maslow in his Hierarchy of Needs [https://en.wikipedia.org...'s_hierarchy_of_needs], which can be broadly classified as physiological needs, safety, love and belonging, esteem and self-actualisation. For human purposes, with all other things being equal, outcomes that better meet these needs can be thought of as good, while outcomes that deprive us can be thought of as bad (note: not evil, just bad), and outcomes that trade off one for another, or mine for yours might be better or worse depending on how it works out for everyone (that touches on ethics, which I won't touch for now.)

So love is a human need, both to receive and to give. We thrive on it, compete for it; we sacrifice to attain it; make sacrifices to give it; and often suffer misery and regret when we don't give or receive enough.

I don't want to get hung up on the fine details of love, but I think it's not contentious to say that empathy (understanding), sympathy (concern) and kindness (altruism) are key elements of love -- it's not love without them -- and that the most accurate measure of how much we love others is how much we sacrifice our welfare for their good.

Love is also not just a human need -- all primates need it, as do many other mammals, and so scientifically we understand it's not just an aesthetic or cultural ideal -- it's key to our existence and identities as members of our species. If we don't love one another generously and well, we all suffer, and if we grow indifferent to one another, or caught up in our isolated concerns, we die first in our conscience, then as a society, and then as a species.

So love is a need, but I'd argue that our need for love isn't infinite: none of our needs are. It's good to have kindness, and sometimes it's crucial, but we've all seen a child who's had enough hugs and affection, and needs to go off and play and explore. We also live in a world of divided responsibilities -- to self, other, and to our social, physical and biological environments. Love for individuals isn't the only kind of love needed to make our species viable; and sometimes it grows us better to give love than to receive it; or to have reflection, justice, and the bear the consequences of our own folly, even when love would see someone sacrifice to bear those consequences for us.

Love is better than good -- it's magnificent. But idealising love and making it some supreme absolute is naive, ignorant and damaging to human welfare. Love exists as part of a rich spectrum of human needs that must be balanced, and sometimes something -- safety, justice or wisdom, for example -- is more important and urgent than is love, for all that love may be more agreeable. Consequently, I hold that it's better to love to the right amount at the right time in the right way than to love excessively, indiscriminately, recklessly and idealistically -- and that wisdom is to know the difference.

And sure, we can rationalise that distinction away, and say that we're loving someone long-term rather than in the moment, or giving them 'tough love' when we're actually deferring compassion and giving them honesty and justice. But that just damages our definitions, confuses our thought, and leads to platitudes, hypocrisies and empty posturing. We have multiple categories of needs. They all matter, and they matter to more than just individuals. We have to balance them tactically and strategically, individually and socially -- never abandoning love, but not idealising it either and turning everything into a meaningless, conceited single story.

There's much I might say about the Christian concept of love, and some of it wouldn't be flattering. But let me say that I think the basics -- the compassion, empathy, patience, humility and forgiveness -- are right. However I think the Christian idealisation of love -- the way it is presented in its milieu in the Sermon on the Mount -- makes more sense as a pitch to xenophobic, insular, tribal Jews living cheek-by-jowl with trading Greeks under what is essentially a violent military dictatorship, than it does as a pitch to modern society.

Why is that? Well consider...

Can you even run a loveless democracy effectively? Can you have an effective police force, or fire department, or hospital whose members don't fundamentally love their communities? Can you have good politicians who don't love their constituents, or good teachers who don't love their students?

I don't think you can.

My conclusion: the idea of loving our neighbour is no longer some remote ideal being pitched to conservative Judaic xenophobes afraid of losing their identities to Hellenistic civilisation. We don't need to be told that love is a good if aspirational ideal; we need to be shown -- early and often -- just how essential it is to the function of a large, modern, pluralistic democracy.

Our media doesn't do that nearly enough, but it should. It should show us that love isn't a religious ideal, but a fundamental human necessity; as critical to our survival as are justice, highways and the rule of law.

And we are still free to sing songs to love, and idealise it in art... But not in philosophy, or ethics, or law, or self-help books for parenting, or educational policy, or police procedures... not anywhere one must make intelligent, practical, clear-eyed and wise decisions balancing genuine conflicting priorities.

So yep... I don't agree with the admonitions from the Sermon on the Mount... I don't agree that you should love one another heedlessly of consequence, and trust to God to kiss your booboos better, and reward you later. I'd say instead: love one another abundantly, wisely, generously, effectively, and resiliently. Not because you'll be paid off, but because you're paying it forward.

I think that's just more sensible.
RuvDraba
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12/18/2015 4:33:32 AM
Posted: 11 months ago
At 12/18/2015 3:40:09 AM, Skyangel wrote:
At 12/18/2015 12:56:17 AM, RuvDraba wrote:
You don't hold generally good practices to be absolutely and universally good? Am I misunderstanding you?
Please explain what you mean. How can kindness, love, patience, etc, not be absolutely and universally good?

That's correct. It's a matter of opinion, but I think I'll need to make a separate post about that.

Please do. I am sure it will be most interesting.

Done, Sky, in the post above [http://www.debate.org...]. (I mention it here because I carelessly responded to my own post, so you might not get notification. :D)
Skyangel
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12/18/2015 4:44:46 AM
Posted: 11 months ago
At 12/18/2015 12:56:17 AM, RuvDraba wrote:
At 12/18/2015 12:32:04 AM, Skyangel wrote:
At 12/17/2015 11:49:56 PM, RuvDraba wrote:

Yet I disagree with the Sermon on the Mount as a modern guide to live by for five key reasons:
1) I don't view it as a handbook for life -- I think it's neither necessary nor sufficient to establish the basics of a good moral or ethical system, and offers a warped set of priorities unsuited to modern responsibilities;
Warped in what way ?
It singles out some virtues while ignoring others. You could argue that it pitches well how to live a good, kind and responsible life as an illiterate Judaic villager in a job you inherited, under the autocratic rule of a military empire where some of your neighbours aren't of your faith and tribe.

What specific human virtues do you perceive it to be ignoring?

But does it pitch well how to live a good, kind and responsible life in a secular, pluralistic democracy with rapidly changing technology, in a fast-paced globalised, urban world where you have no tribe, your neighbours are mostly strangers, and you may be variously called upon to critique and set social policy ranging from economics through national security and pluralistic social justice?

I think that depends on whether readers wish to interpret it literally or pay more attention to the principles which are conveyed through the story.
The concept of tribes is not much different to the concept of "birds of a feather flocking together". It seems that people find their peers regardless of whether they really know their literal neighbours or not. The religious tend to hang out with their religious peers, the scientifically minded tend to hang out with their peers. Writers and artists search out people with common interests and inspire each other, etc, It seems any groups of people have their common interests and/or beliefs. Therefore groups or clubs of today are really not much different to "tribes" as they all like to believe theirs is the "best" There will always be those in authority and those in submission to authority. That seems to be how the human social system works. Basically it is to obey those who are in authority or suffer the consequences.

2) It seeks to impose reform on benighted ancient Judaic traditions by reinterpreting them, when I think those traditions are best discarded;
Your opinions are noted.
It's relevant, because those traditions were already holding back Judaic socio-economic development at the time Jesus' teachings were attested. it makes sense for someone to have tried to reform those traditions without losing them entirely -- however Judaism has undergone the repeated soul-searching over the last two millennia -- and has now moved so far from its Biblical traditions that one is entitled to ask whether a' Christian upgrade' was necessary or sufficient, or whether the proscriptions just needed graceful retirement. :)

The Jesus character did tend to break a few traditions in the overall story but from my point of view he was not trying to reinterpret them but was conveying the message that traditions ought not be stuck to so rigidly to create bondage. Neither should they cause people to condemn others for not adhering strictly to them. It depends entirely on the traditions as to whether they ought to be entirely discarded or not. I think it is possible to keep a tradition in principle without needing the superstitious aspects of it. For example, take the tradition of Santa. It has its fantasy aspect of the magic man as well as its realistic aspect of being charitable in secret. The tradition of giving in secret can be easily adopted by anyone without needing the fantasy character aspect of it. I think the same principle can be applied to religious traditions.
The aspect of being kind, loving, helpful, forgiving, etc to our fellow humans can be retained without needing any ancient religious rituals or idol worship of any particular supernatural characters.

3) It's paternalistic and condescending, adopts a tone I think inappropriate for modern moral and ethical discourse;
In what way do you perceive it to be condescending?
The sheep/shepherd paridigm we find in Judaeo-Christian morality is all through it implicitly if not always literally.

I do not perceive the sheep/ shepherd paradigm to be condescending at all. I see it as a basic model of leaders and followers in any group, beginning with a small family group where the parents are the shepherds and the children the sheep, to any larger group where the leaders are the shepherds and the members are the "sheep" who are cared for by the leaders. The leaders (shepherds, teachers) in that sense are servants to the sheep (group, students) and they supposedly do their best to care for those "sheep" and have their best interests at heart.
No good teachers look down condescendingly on their students any more than a parent looks condescendingly on their own children. Maturity creates authority and if those who lack authority feel inferior to those in authority, the problem is not with the authorities but rather with a lack of self esteem or lack of maturity in those who feel belittled.
I think it is a matter of how people choose to perceive the whole scenario.
Leaders and followers will always exist on this planet simply due to the fact that there will always be immature people on the planet who need sensible mature leaders to be role models till they learn to become role models themselves.

Setting aside how insulting that paradigm is to a modern educated mind, it's also an active discouragement to question authority, demand transparency, advance one's own knowledge, take responsibility for one's own ignorance and error, and hold authority to account for the same.

I believe I have a modern educated mind and I do not find the paradigm to be the least bit insulting. Therefore when you refer to "a modern educated mind" you must only be referring to educated minds which perceive the paradigm to be insulting and are not taking others into account.
I also do not see it as an active discouragement to question authorities. I see the story as a whole, not just the sermon on the mount, encouraging people to grow up and indeed take responsibility for their own actions. I see it encouraging people to follow the examples of good leaders and become leaders themselves.

I believe such a paternalistic approach to morality is unethical, and unsustainable in a modern world.

If you are referring to worshipping one supernatural character as the father of all humanity and living in blind obedience to that character, I agree with you but that is just one way of looking at the whole principle conveyed in the story.
There is always "more than one way to skin a cat" and more than one way to perceive anything at all.
Paternalistic approaches to morality seem to be about caring for the safety of all humans.
It seems to work just fine in this modern world....
"Examples of paternalism include laws requiring the use of motorcycle helmets, laws punishing citizens for not obtaining their driving license in time (see driving licence in Belgium), a parent forbidding their children to engage in dangerous activities, and a psychiatrist confiscating sharp objects from someone who is suicidally depressed."
https://en.wikipedia.org...
Skyangel
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12/18/2015 5:15:09 AM
Posted: 11 months ago
At 12/18/2015 12:56:17 AM, RuvDraba wrote:
At 12/18/2015 12:32:04 AM, Skyangel wrote:
At 12/17/2015 11:49:56 PM, RuvDraba wrote:

4) It encourages submission to revelatory authority and power under threats and promises of bribes, which I think is unsuited to discourse meant to develop compassion, morality and ethics;
Threats and bribes?
E.g. promises of divine favour and afterlife; threats of missing out.

Fair enough if you wish to take it all literally.

In my opinion and perception, they are not threats and bribes but merely explanations of consequences of certain attitudes and actions, but I don't interpret heaven and hell to be some locations where people end up after they die. Neither do I interpret any "afterlife" to be a new life for any individual after death.

However, if you look only on outward appearances and take the words literally, it is not hard to understand how someone would interpret heaven to be some kind of reward and hell to be some kind of punishment.
It's all in the perception and it is quite amazing how the same words can be perceived in totally opposite ways.

5) It's also deeply superstitious, and I don't myself believe that superstition is good for critical thought.
Whether readers perceive it as superstitious or not, I think depends entirely on personal perception and interpretation of the text and the principles conveyed.
Er, no. If a teacher tells you he's fulfilling prophecy, then he's telling you to believe in prophecy. If you start straining the interpretation to make it figurative, then you still have to explain how that accords with the historical and cultural traditions of the day -- and it doesn't. When ancient peoples say magic, they generally mean literal magic.

If that "teacher" however is a mythical character who personified a principle of living, what is he really teaching readers ? Is he saying a supernatural man is fulfilling prophecy about himself ? ...or.... Is the character saying an eternal principle is fulfilling its own "destiny" in the same way Mother Nature fulfils her own "destiny" through the principles and processes she personifies?
When ancient people referred to magic they seemed to think it was the result of supernatural powers but these days most mature adults understand magic is nothing but an illusion created by natural means.
I don't think human traditions have changed much at all when it comes to the superstitious aspects of humans nature, the worship of invisible supernatural characters, the concepts of being loving, kind and helpful to all. Neither have the traditions of being respectful of and obedient to the laws of the land or facing the consequences if one breaks them.

I will agree that superstition is not good for critical thought. Yet being critical and objective about superstition can be very good food for thought.
That's irrelevant to the focus of the text.

It is irrelevant in your perception if you say so. Nothing is irrelevant in my perception. I see a connection between the dots labelled as relevant and irrelevant and I find it foolish to discard any aspects of a topic. I think there is something to learn even from the things we sometimes perceive as garbage. One mans trash..... etc

So I have no problems in principle if people want to view it as inspiration -- anyone can do that with any text; I just don't think it should be slavishly followed.
If something causes or inspires people to follow goodness, kindness, love, etc. what would be wrong with binding oneself to those principles and becoming a voluntary servant or slave to following the principles?
It's both ignorant and unethical to do so. More on that later.

I look forward to reading about why it is ignorant and unethical to bind or commit oneself to following love, goodness, etc.
Skyangel
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12/18/2015 5:24:03 AM
Posted: 11 months ago
At 12/18/2015 12:56:17 AM, RuvDraba wrote:
At 12/18/2015 12:32:04 AM, Skyangel wrote:
At 12/17/2015 11:49:56 PM, RuvDraba wrote:

Finally, some secularists will say that the sermon on the mount is a landmark in human thought, and while that's flattering to Christians and the Atlantic civilisations they spawned, I don't myself believe that. It's certainly a landmark in Judaeo-Christian thought, but of the humanistic virtues it espouses, I've seen none that cannot be found earlier in other thought, and I'm happy to show where else we can find such ideas if members are interested.
I agree the general concepts of living in love, kindness, forgiveness, etc can be found in many different cultures all over the world. They are not confined to Christianity or to the teachings of the Jesus character. Many myths portray and convey similar messages regarding human morals and virtues.
Indeed, and since they occur elsewhere, we can begin to compare how they are conceived, articulated, and applied; evaluate their effects and talk about whether a particular formulation is focused, appropriate, balanced, robust, integratable and effective.

OK, Please begin.

So this is not to dismiss the Sermon on the Mount in its impact on Judaism of the day, or in its influence on the world faith Christianity subsequently became. It is not to say that such words cannot sometimes be used beneficially as inspiration, if you interpret them sensibly.
Sensible interpretation is the secret to understanding anything, especially myths and ancient texts which are full of parables, idioms, allegories, etc.
There are at least four kinds of sensible relevant here:
1) a sensible understanding of how the ancient world worked, and what sense ancients might have made of these ideas;
2) a sensible understanding of how it has since been reinterpreted and why;
3) a sensible understanding of how our world works, and what it's strong and weak at; and finally
4) a sensible understanding of how ancient ideas might be practically used for inspiration if not prescription

I would like to add a sensible understanding of anthropomorphism in ancient literature and how ancient superstitions caused humans to perceive the personified forces as gods. It seems those superstitions have successfully been passed down to the children of those superstitious ancestors. Otherwise humanity would have grown out of the idol worship of gods/ God by now but obviously they have not.
RuvDraba
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12/18/2015 6:35:16 AM
Posted: 11 months ago
At 12/18/2015 4:44:46 AM, Skyangel wrote:
At 12/18/2015 12:56:17 AM, RuvDraba wrote:
At 12/18/2015 12:32:04 AM, Skyangel wrote:
At 12/17/2015 11:49:56 PM, RuvDraba wrote:
Yet I disagree with the Sermon on the Mount as a modern guide to live by for five key reasons:
1) I don't view it as a handbook for life -- I think it's neither necessary nor sufficient to establish the basics of a good moral or ethical system, and offers a warped set of priorities unsuited to modern responsibilities;
Warped in what way ?
It singles out some virtues while ignoring others. You could argue that it pitches well how to live a good, kind and responsible life as an illiterate Judaic villager in a job you inherited, under the autocratic rule of a military empire where some of your neighbours aren't of your faith and tribe.
What specific human virtues do you perceive it to be ignoring?
Our appreciation of virtue has expanded and reprioritised, Sky, since the Enlightenment (late C17th to late C18th.) In the ancient world, loyalty, uncomplaining obedience, due submission and adherence to tribal traditions featured large. Post Enlightenment, we see the idea that humans are born equal, that they have rights, that independent, evidence-based inquiry can produce better insights than can intuitions or appeals to traditional authority, that we owe one another diligence, rigour and accountability, and not just honesty -- these ideas weren't well known or accepted at the time the Sermon on the Mount was written.

But does it pitch well how to live a good, kind and responsible life in a secular, pluralistic democracy [...]?
I think that depends on whether readers wish to interpret it literally or pay more attention to the principles which are conveyed through the story.
We've talked about that before, Sky. If you're reading your own culture, education, values and ideas into text written at a time when that culture didn't exist, nobody was educated as you are, your values weren't all shared, and many of the ideas you draw on hadn't been developed yet, then you may be interpreting the text in ways never intended.

That's fine, but anyone can do that, and interpret it any way they like. It says little about the text to do so; and more about you as a reader.

2) It seeks to impose reform on benighted ancient Judaic traditions by reinterpreting them, when I think those traditions are best discarded;
Your opinions are noted.
It's relevant, because those traditions were already holding back Judaic socio-economic development at the time Jesus' teachings were attested. it makes sense for someone to have tried to reform those traditions without losing them entirely -- however Judaism has undergone the repeated soul-searching over the last two millennia -- and has now moved so far from its Biblical traditions that one is entitled to ask whether a' Christian upgrade' was necessary or sufficient, or whether the proscriptions just needed graceful retirement. :)
The Jesus character did tend to break a few traditions in the overall story but from my point of view he was not trying to reinterpret them but was conveying the message that traditions ought not be stuck to so rigidly to create bondage.
Actually, from historical context we know he was telling his audience how to reinterpret commandments they were already keeping.

The aspect of being kind, loving, helpful, forgiving, etc to our fellow humans can be retained without needing any ancient religious rituals or idol worship of any particular supernatural characters.
Yet that's not how Christians have traditionally interpreted it; it's unlikely to be the original intention of the text; and so it begs why you'd draw your own freely-interpreted inspiration from that particular text when you can get the same ideas from so many other places.

And as I've already argued, do we really need to be told that kindness is a rule? Isn't it more valuable to understand why kindness is important, and to see good examples of it illustrated?

3) It's paternalistic and condescending, adopts a tone I think inappropriate for modern moral and ethical discourse;
In what way do you perceive it to be condescending?
The sheep/shepherd paridigm we find in Judaeo-Christian morality is all through it implicitly if not always literally.
I do not perceive the sheep/ shepherd paradigm to be condescending at all. I see it as a basic model of leaders and followers in any group
Have you read any modern texts about leadership, Sky?

The paradigm is outdated. At the time Matthew was written, the patriarchal model of leadership was universal. But times have changed, and we now realise that teams are less productive, adaptive and effective under a patriarchal 'sheep/shepherd' mode -- and that patriarchal leadership is very corruptible. Such a model is rarely used in effective modern leadership, and seldom used alone. (Poke for more info if interested.)

Setting aside how insulting that paradigm is to a modern educated mind, it's also an active discouragement to question authority, demand transparency, advance one's own knowledge, take responsibility for one's own ignorance and error, and hold authority to account for the same.
I believe I have a modern educated mind and I do not find the paradigm to be the least bit insulting.
Is that because you're matching text to what you already accept, and ignoring anything that doesn't fit?

I also do not see it as an active discouragement to question authorities. I see the story as a whole
But is the story about you, Sky, or about something else? If it's about something else, then when you make it about you, are you seeing the story in its original context, or just finding new ways to agree with yourself?

I believe such a paternalistic approach to morality is unethical, and unsustainable in a modern world.
If you are referring to worshipping one supernatural character as the father of all humanity and living in blind obedience to that character, I agree with you
Your comment illustrates part of why the sheep/shepherd model is so badly flawed: it's based on obedience, not insight.

There is always "more than one way to skin a cat" and more than one way to perceive anything at all.
Paternalistic approaches to morality seem to be about caring for the safety of all humans.
Yes. Paternalism is based on the premise that you don't and can't know what's good for you, while someone else does.

Under that model, as a woman you're told that you're weak, frail, vulnerable, irrational and driven by intemperate emotions. You have to relinquish the vote and your right to sit on a jury, your education, your driver's license and right to travel unescorted, your right to be represented by a counsel of your choice, your right to independent opinions, to choose your job and your husband, and manage your finances.

Under a purely paternalistic model, people who can seize power, do so. And then they tell you why it's better vested in them than in you, even as they use your power to their advantage.

It seems to work just fine in this modern world....
"Examples of paternalism include laws requiring the use of motorcycle helmets, laws punishing citizens for not obtaining their driving license in time (see driving licence in Belgium), a parent forbidding their children to engage in dangerous activities, and a psychiatrist confiscating sharp objects from someone who is suicidally depressed."
https://en.wikipedia.org...

Yes. Paternalistic intervention still occurs, but is now subject to ethical accountability. Yet in ancient Judaic scripture, all morality was paternalistic -- there was no other kind; and that tradition applies to the Sermon on the Mount too, perhaps because its target audience was Jews.
Skyangel
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12/18/2015 7:41:20 AM
Posted: 11 months ago
At 12/18/2015 4:32:14 AM, RuvDraba wrote:
At 12/18/2015 12:56:17 AM, RuvDraba wrote:
At 12/18/2015 12:32:04 AM, Skyangel wrote:
At 12/17/2015 11:49:56 PM, RuvDraba wrote:
Christians also generally assert that the Sermon preaches kindness, patience, humility, forgiveness and love, and that these are of course good things. I agree that those ideas feature in it, and that they are generally good practices, though I don't hold them to be absolutely and universally good.
You don't hold generally good practices to be absolutely and universally good? Am I misunderstanding you?
Please explain what you mean. How can kindness, love, patience, etc, not be absolutely and universally good?
That's correct. It's a matter of opinion, but I think I'll need to make a separate post about that.
This post is about why, while kindness, love and patience are good, they're not good as universal absolutes.

For this post, as a single example, I'll take the bull by the horns and talk about love.

......snipped for character space.....

I gather you are not objecting to love so much as you seem to be object to the unbalanced concept of anyone needing constant hugs, affection, attention and all the rest of the "feel good sensations" in a never ending or infinite sense.
You seem to be objecting to the idea of idealising all the positive aspects of love as a supreme absolute or idolizing love as some kind of supreme god.
You highlight the need for balance in life and also rightfully point out that some aspects of life are more important at certain times than just pursuing emotions which make people feel good.

I personally see things like safety, justice or wisdom, etc as part of balanced love not something separate from it.
I agree that wisdom is needed when it comes to giving and receiving the emotion or attitude we perceive and define as love.
Love has many different aspects to it and some of those aspects. like discipline for example, do not always make others or ourselves feel good but they are necessary part of love. It also has a short term and a long term aspect to it.
Just because a parent disciplines or punishes a child in a moment of anger, does not mean they don't love the child but the child might not feel loved at the time.

I don't think the term "tough love" is rationalizing any distinction away unless you perceive honesty and justice as something separate and distinct from love and compassion.

I guess it all depends on how people personally perceive the word "love" and whether the perception and understanding of the word in their minds includes only the feel good aspects or also includes the aspects like discipline and justice which don't always feel so good but are placed more under the heading of "tough love".

I can see how "Tough Love" can appear to be the opposite of "Love" in the minds of many people and cause confusion for some.
Personally I simply see it as the positive and negative aspects of the same attitude or emotion much like opposite sides of the same coin but I see most opposites that way.

I agree people have multiple categories of needs and all are important.
I agree balance is a necessary part of life and highlighting only the positive aspects of anything at all while idealising them above the negative aspects is an unbalanced perspective.

I agree that it would be impossible to run a loveless democracy effectively.
I agree that no mature adults need to be told to love others or how to love them. However, I think the immature still need to be told as well as shown by example.

The only admonition regarding love on the sermon on the mount is to love your enemies.

I personally do not perceive any character telling anyone to love heedlessly of consequences, or to trust some supernatural character to kiss their booboos better, and reward them later.

If the character Jesus is any example of how to love ones enemies, in my perception he basically set the example of telling them exactly what he thought of them, chastising them for hypocrisy, calling them fools, children of the devil, etc and basically did exactly what the sermon on the mounts on all outward appearances, teaches or implies not to do if you don't want to suffer the consequences.
Read from 5: 22 as an example. Notice the warning regarding insulting people and calling them fools. Then pay attention to Matt 23 where the character turned around and did exactly that.
Does that not make the character seem like a hypocrite himself as he was chastising people for their hypocrisy?
No wonder they crucified him. He also knew they would so I guess he had nothing to lose except his own reputation.

Honesty can be a type of tough love which is very costly to the one being honest, especially when the recipients of the tough love receive and interpret it as insulting, rude, arrogant and belittling. It made the Pharisees angry at the one who loved them enough to be blatantly honest with them.

The same scenario happens today if a person simply tells another what they think of them without any regard to how it might hurt their egos or tender feelings. People generally react to blatant honesty in a negative way when they perceive it as rude, insulting, arrogant or belittling but they never stop to think about their own attitude and how it might also come across as rude and arrogant and "holier than thou" when they judge and condemn others as being that way.

Ironically it is no different to the scenario of the pot calling the kettle black.

Love simply hurts at times but it is necessary if we wish to learn to accept honesty and truth from each other rather than only tickle each others ears with what we are taught are the polite and proper politically correct things to say.

I guess it all depends on whether people prefer blatant honesty and truth which hurts or if they prefer their ears tickled with feel good fluffy warm fuzzies as people put on hypocritical facades to mask what they really think.

Truth can hurt a lot and so can Love. Truth spoken in Love can cause the speaker of that Truth to be despised and rejected by those he is being honest with. It takes self sacrifice to speak the truth that hurts, especially when you understand that the automatic reaction of the hearers is to reject the messenger.
That is what I get out of the story as a whole anyway.
Skyangel
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12/18/2015 8:40:51 AM
Posted: 11 months ago
At 12/18/2015 6:35:16 AM, RuvDraba wrote:
At 12/18/2015 4:44:46 AM, Skyangel wrote:
At 12/18/2015 12:56:17 AM, RuvDraba wrote:
At 12/18/2015 12:32:04 AM, Skyangel wrote:
At 12/17/2015 11:49:56 PM, RuvDraba wrote:
Yet I disagree with the Sermon on the Mount as a modern guide to live by for five key reasons:
1) I don't view it as a handbook for life -- I think it's neither necessary nor sufficient to establish the basics of a good moral or ethical system, and offers a warped set of priorities unsuited to modern responsibilities;
Warped in what way ?
It singles out some virtues while ignoring others. You could argue that it pitches well how to live a good, kind and responsible life as an illiterate Judaic villager in a job you inherited, under the autocratic rule of a military empire where some of your neighbours aren't of your faith and tribe.
What specific human virtues do you perceive it to be ignoring?
Our appreciation of virtue has expanded and reprioritised, Sky, since the Enlightenment (late C17th to late C18th.) In the ancient world, loyalty, uncomplaining obedience, due submission and adherence to tribal traditions featured large. Post Enlightenment, we see the idea that humans are born equal, that they have rights, that independent, evidence-based inquiry can produce better insights than can intuitions or appeals to traditional authority, that we owe one another diligence, rigour and accountability, and not just honesty -- these ideas weren't well known or accepted at the time the Sermon on the Mount was written.


Possibly not, but even in todays "enlightened" society there are still cultures which believe in submission and uncomplaining obedience to the traditions and rituals of their elders. Sure, many people claim to believe in equality but many still believe some are more equal than others and also believe some are superior or inferior to others. That comes across loud and clear in various human attitudes even on these forums.

Diligence, rigour and accountability are mainly things mature adults expect from other adults. However, in spite of expectations, some adults are mentally immature, still act like children and want to believe they don't need to be accountable for their foolishness, errors or "sins".

Many seem to prefer to believe some supernatural character will clean up all their "spilled milk" as it were and they don't need to worry about the consequences of their actions as long as they believe the character cleaned up their "mess".

Therefore "enlightenment" regarding equality has not done religious believers any good or improved their outlook on life since they still act like dependent children who need a "supernatural daddy" to support them and clean up after them. They have not been enlightened enough to realize they are equal to any god or supernatural characters.

If believers follow any of Jesus examples at all, it should be the example of growing up and becoming mature in the sense of "the son" becoming "the father figure". That takes an acceptance of personal responsibility rather than palming off responsibility to another and expecting someone else to bail you out of your problems.
Skyangel
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12/18/2015 9:04:16 AM
Posted: 11 months ago
At 12/18/2015 6:35:16 AM, RuvDraba wrote:
At 12/18/2015 4:44:46 AM, Skyangel wrote:
At 12/18/2015 12:56:17 AM, RuvDraba wrote:

But does it pitch well how to live a good, kind and responsible life in a secular, pluralistic democracy [...]?

I think that depends on whether readers wish to interpret it literally or pay more attention to the principles which are conveyed through the story.

We've talked about that before, Sky. If you're reading your own culture, education, values and ideas into text written at a time when that culture didn't exist, nobody was educated as you are, your values weren't all shared, and many of the ideas you draw on hadn't been developed yet, then you may be interpreting the text in ways never intended.

That's possible but it is also possible to understand the values, cultures and beliefs etc of the time and compare them to those same things today in the same corner of the world as referred to in the story, as well as consider how they compare to other cultures in others areas of the world.

That's fine, but anyone can do that, and interpret it any way they like. It says little about the text to do so; and more about you as a reader.

Interpreting stories to suit ones own perceptions and beliefs is not quite the same as comparing principles in ancient cultures with similar principles in todays cultures and making an attempt to understand as many different interpretations of the same scriptures as humanly possible.
One is a narrow minded view which adheres to its own stubborn beliefs and refuses to budge from them. The other is a more open minded view which attempts to understand the history and culture as well as the principles which are common to human nature in general, as well as considering the story in a mythical sense vs a historical sense and deciding which makes more sense in reality.

As a reader who is interested in allegories, myths, symbolism, poetry, human nature and principles of life which are common to most people, you could say I am biased toward those things and therefore those aspects of the stories tend to stand out to me more than they might to other readers who are less interested in the same aspects.
I tend to think any readers of any stories "see" or "read between the lines" whatever interests them the most at the time. I think all of us wear "rose coloured glasses" tinted by our personal perceptions, through which we filter everything we read and observe.
It makes us all biased toward our own perceptions as we consider anyone elses secondary to our own.
Skyangel
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12/18/2015 9:21:23 AM
Posted: 11 months ago
At 12/18/2015 6:35:16 AM, RuvDraba wrote:
At 12/18/2015 4:44:46 AM, Skyangel wrote:
At 12/18/2015 12:56:17 AM, RuvDraba wrote:

It's relevant, because those traditions were already holding back Judaic socio-economic development at the time Jesus' teachings were attested. it makes sense for someone to have tried to reform those traditions without losing them entirely -- however Judaism has undergone the repeated soul-searching over the last two millennia -- and has now moved so far from its Biblical traditions that one is entitled to ask whether a' Christian upgrade' was necessary or sufficient, or whether the proscriptions just needed graceful retirement. :)
The Jesus character did tend to break a few traditions in the overall story but from my point of view he was not trying to reinterpret them but was conveying the message that traditions ought not be stuck to so rigidly to create bondage.
Actually, from historical context we know he was telling his audience how to reinterpret commandments they were already keeping.

Your statement is evidence of your personal perception and the perception of those who agree with you. Not necessarily what every reader knows or gleans from the story.
Were they already keeping the commandments?
If they were, why did the character Jesus chastise the Pharisees for hypocrisy, call them blind fools and tell them they were children of the devil rather than calling them children of God and praising them for keep the commandments?

If they were indeed keeping the commandments, why did the character Jesus not tell them they were good for doing their best but there is an even better way to keep the commandments? Why convey a message in a way that he knew would be perceived as evil and cause religious leaders to oppose him?

If the supernatural character was mythical as opposed to historical, why would the authors portray the character Jesus in the way they did?
Skyangel
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12/18/2015 9:39:57 AM
Posted: 11 months ago
At 12/18/2015 6:35:16 AM, RuvDraba wrote:
At 12/18/2015 4:44:46 AM, Skyangel wrote:
At 12/18/2015 12:56:17 AM, RuvDraba wrote:

The aspect of being kind, loving, helpful, forgiving, etc to our fellow humans can be retained without needing any ancient religious rituals or idol worship of any particular supernatural characters.
Yet that's not how Christians have traditionally interpreted it; it's unlikely to be the original intention of the text; and so it begs why you'd draw your own freely-interpreted inspiration from that particular text when you can get the same ideas from so many other places.

I understand most Christians traditionally interpret the bible stories literally and see Jesus as a historical supernatural character.

The fact that I can get the same idea from so many other places and do not see Jesus as a historical character is what most likely inspires me to see that same message in the bible stories. I tend to compare myths to find similarities rather than treat the bible as something different or special from other myths. I happen to believe all myths teach morals and principles which can be applied to life in general regardless of culture and age. Obviously that belief affects the way I interpret the words I read.

And as I've already argued, do we really need to be told that kindness is a rule? Isn't it more valuable to understand why kindness is important, and to see good examples of it illustrated?

The bible stories illustrate examples of love and kindness as well as illustrating examples of hate, condemnation and hypocrisy etc . I think it is a well balanced collection of stories which portray both positive and negative aspects of human nature regardless of the setting or culture.
Myths are generally a good way to portray lessons about life but obviously they can become problematic when readers start believing mythical characters are real and decide to turn those characters into gods to worship.
Skyangel
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12/18/2015 10:03:16 AM
Posted: 11 months ago
At 12/18/2015 6:35:16 AM, RuvDraba wrote:
At 12/18/2015 4:44:46 AM, Skyangel wrote:
At 12/18/2015 12:56:17 AM, RuvDraba wrote:
At 12/18/2015 12:32:04 AM, Skyangel wrote:
At 12/17/2015 11:49:56 PM, RuvDraba wrote:
3) It's paternalistic and condescending, adopts a tone I think inappropriate for modern moral and ethical discourse;
In what way do you perceive it to be condescending?
The sheep/shepherd paridigm we find in Judaeo-Christian morality is all through it implicitly if not always literally.
I do not perceive the sheep/ shepherd paradigm to be condescending at all. I see it as a basic model of leaders and followers in any group
Have you read any modern texts about leadership, Sky?

The paradigm is outdated. At the time Matthew was written, the patriarchal model of leadership was universal. But times have changed, and we now realise that teams are less productive, adaptive and effective under a patriarchal 'sheep/shepherd' mode -- and that patriarchal leadership is very corruptible. Such a model is rarely used in effective modern leadership, and seldom used alone. (Poke for more info if interested.)


It is only outdated when referring to groups in which all are considered equal in a team setting and all have an equal voting voice when it comes to making decisions for the whole group.
It is not outdated when referring to mature people teaching immature people about life, obeying rules and submitting to authorities for their own safety etc.
It all depends on what type of groups we are talking about. I doubt we will ever get children outvoting their parents or having an equal say in how household finances are run for example. It takes a certain amount of maturity before children are treated as equals by adults. There is a reason why some countries don't allow people to vote before the age of 18. Even after that age the maturity of many is questionable.

When it comes to principles in the bible stories, one of the main themes I see running through them is the theme about growing up and becoming wise and courageous enough to be a mature leader rather than letting religious traditions and laws rule your life and bind you like a slave to those things.
The character Jesus set the example of ruling over the laws in the sense of deciding which ones are appropriate at which times rather than letting laws rule and bind him and cause him to be afraid to do anything for fear of breaking them.
RuvDraba
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12/18/2015 10:03:45 AM
Posted: 11 months ago
At 12/18/2015 5:24:03 AM, Skyangel wrote:
At 12/18/2015 12:56:17 AM, RuvDraba wrote:
At 12/18/2015 12:32:04 AM, Skyangel wrote:
At 12/17/2015 11:49:56 PM, RuvDraba wrote:
Finally, some secularists will say that the sermon on the mount is a landmark in human thought, and while that's flattering to Christians and the Atlantic civilisations they spawned, I don't myself believe that. It's certainly a landmark in Judaeo-Christian thought, but of the humanistic virtues it espouses, I've seen none that cannot be found earlier in other thought, and I'm happy to show where else we can find such ideas if members are interested.
I agree the general concepts of living in love, kindness, forgiveness, etc can be found in many different cultures all over the world. They are not confined to Christianity or to the teachings of the Jesus character. Many myths portray and convey similar messages regarding human morals and virtues.
Indeed, and since they occur elsewhere, we can begin to compare how they are conceived, articulated, and applied; evaluate their effects and talk about whether a particular formulation is focused, appropriate, balanced, robust, integratable and effective.
OK, Please begin.

We already are, because we've started talking about the demands of our own society, and that relates to all the questions above.

If we find it useful (it might not be), we could compare traditional Christian ideas of love with Buddhist or Jainist ideas (they're close, but subtly different), or Zoroastrian ideas (similar, but in a different way.) Or we could compare what's actually written in the Sermon on the Mount with the way love is understood psychologically and sociologically today (there are some substantial differences.)

So this is not to dismiss the Sermon on the Mount in its impact on Judaism of the day, or in its influence on the world faith Christianity subsequently became. It is not to say that such words cannot sometimes be used beneficially as inspiration, if you interpret them sensibly.
Sensible interpretation is the secret to understanding anything, especially myths and ancient texts which are full of parables, idioms, allegories, etc.
There are at least four kinds of sensible relevant here:
1) a sensible understanding of how the ancient world worked, and what sense ancients might have made of these ideas;
2) a sensible understanding of how it has since been reinterpreted and why;
3) a sensible understanding of how our world works, and what it's strong and weak at; and finally
4) a sensible understanding of how ancient ideas might be practically used for inspiration if not prescription
I would like to add a sensible understanding of anthropomorphism in ancient literature and how ancient superstitions caused humans to perceive the personified forces as gods.
Yes -- here you're talking about human psychology and sociology. We do find it easier to understand and teach the world if we can paint human faces on its agents, even though the agents aren't really people. (Even scientists sometimes do this when explaining abstract ideas -- knowing they don't mean it literally, and knowing that it's not very scientific to do so. :D)

It seems those superstitions have successfully been passed down to the children of those superstitious ancestors.
Yes, we learn best what's easiest to learn, whether it's correct or not. And that means myth tends to overtake science because science is harder, and that goes double when there's no science in the first place: everyone wants a simple, easy story that works.